Photo by Brian McNally for The Sports Capitol

TSC Newsletter: They did it this time, really

BY TODD DYBAS | MAY 8, 2018

It’s over. Seriously. It’s true. We’re here to confirm it in case you thought last night was some fever dream that jostled the synapses in your skull.

The Capitals beat the Pittsburgh Penguins, 2-1, in overtime in Pittsburgh. Tom Wilson did not play. Nicklas Backstrom did not play. Andre Burakovsky remained out. It was time for top-line Chandler Stephenson, just the way everyone figured it would be during a May elimination game. Here they are. A bunch of overachievers instead of the can’t-get-right crew.  

“In the first round there was a lot of grit and determination, and we didn’t panic at all,” Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said. “We did have our moment in the first period where you realize we had five rookies playing for us tonight. I thought our window was closed, and that we were an old team. And we had five rookies in the lineup tonight. So the future is bright, and now we have to focus on the third round.”

We’ll skip the merits of his gloating for now. No one purposely put five rookies onto the ice.

Anyway. Brian was in Pittsburgh with the group that broke a 20-year drought in Washington. Alexander Ovechkin’s relief was apparent when he looked skyward following the winning goal. From Brian’s story:

Ovechkin has taken his licks over the years. He was Captain Couldn’t, the man who put up massive regular-season numbers year after year, but whose team always fell short. In 109 career playoff games, Ovechkin has 54 goals and 51 assists (105 points). By all accounts, he has done everything he could to push Washington to this point, but it was never going to be good enough.

“Yeah. And has always been good in playoffs, too,” Beagle said. “Takes a little bit of a beating every time. But has always been good in playoffs, has always been our rock, our captain. Has played unreal this playoffs and this series and we look for that going forward.”

You can also catch Brian discussing what the scene in Pittsburgh was like in the latest edition of the Red Line podcast.

Todd wrote about this in the bigger picture. Sure, celebrating moving to the conference finals should be scoffed at. However, this was an advancement that squashed the city’s ongoing plight. Problems are always relative.

Tampa Bay is next. Probably Friday night in Florida for Game 1. Sunday for Game 2. That’s an educated guess.

The Nationals kept rolling in San Diego. Stephen Strasburg returned to his hometown to pitch seven innings in an 8-5 win over the eternally listless Padres. Matt Adams hit two more home runs. Trea Turner also homered. Anthony Rendon picked up two hits. The Nationals are 19-17, winners of eight of the last nine and are 1 ½ games out of first place in the National League East Division.

Believe it or not, the Redskins are close to starting work. Rookie minicamp opens at the end of the week. Ben pulled together another deep-dive notebook to look through who will be there fighting for spots. The headliners, Da’Ron Payne and Derrius Guice are apparent. But, there is a slew of other rookies, including undrafted free agents, trying to find a way onto the 53-man roster. Ben takes a look at the possibilities there.

Thanks for listening, reading and subscribing.

Ben, Brian and Todd

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